Irish court approves Vietnamese truck deaths

Dublin – An Irish court on 24 January approved the extradition of one of two Northern Irish men charged with homicide for the deaths of 39 Vietnamese found in a truck bed near London last year. The UK authorities accuse 23-year-old Eamonn Harrison of trafficking, immigration and 39 homicide crimes in a case that highlighted illegal human smuggling.

Judge Donald Binchy postponed Harrison’s surrender to Britain until February 4. Binchy announced that the lengthy ruling would not be available until early next week and asked Harrison’s lawyer to look into it further. Airport personnel load a coffin into an ambulance at Noi Bai Airport on November 27, 2019 in Hanoi, Vietnam. (Vietnam news agency via AP)

The discovery of the bodies on the back of a refrigerated truck that smuggled them into Britain showed how poor citizens of Asia, Africa and the Middle East paid large sums of money to middlemen for dangerous, illegal trips to the West. The British authorities, relying on an analysis of cell phones, cell tower data and video surveillance, say that Harrison delivered the trailer in which the people were found to a Belgian port before he left for the UK, an Irish state lawyer said in last month with. Police officers drive away a truck (C) in which 39 bodies were found during a murder investigation at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, east of London, on October 23, 2019. (Ben Stansall / AFP via Getty Images)

Harrison had contested the extradition order. His lawyer argued that a lack of information in the warrant about the place of death and how Harrison was involved made it “fundamentally defective.” The police in Vietnam arrested 10 people in connection with the deaths last year.

The British driver of the truck has admitted to having signed plans to support illegal immigration and to acquire criminal property. Another man from Northern Ireland has been accused of arranging people’s trips for exploitation and conspiracy to violate immigration laws. Two other men from the UK-led region are also being sought on suspicion of homicide and human trafficking.

By Graham Fahy and Padraic Halpin

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